In the sixteen short years Summer Dale graced this planet, she made more of a difference than most people do in a lifetime. Today was not a day to mourn; there would be time for that. Today was a time to celebrate Summer’s incredible life. People dressed in purple, her favorite color, and came by the hundreds to Opera, a nightclub in Midtown Atlanta, to pay tribute to this remarkable girl.
It was standing room only…with the balconies reserved for Summer’s high school friends…
…and her church friends…
…and her friends from childhood.
The service was officiated by Summer’s Unitarian Universalist minister, Rev. Terry Davis.
Summer’s cousin Paul Batchelor and her stepfather Charles Williams accompanied Summer’s cousin William Batchelor as he brought the house down with his rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
Summer’s friend, Michael Johns, the former American Idol runner-up, sang until he became too overcome with emotion to continue.
Those closest to Summer spoke about her life, her battle against cancer, and how she began Team Summer – Summer the Friend, Summer the Fighter, Summer the Founder.
Her father, Al Dale…
…her mother, Lynne Dale…
…and her stepmother, Cynthia Gentry, who read one of Summer’s favorite poems.
Words written by Summer’s twin brother, Jordan, were read by his best friend, Joey Weiss.
Summer’s friend, Rachel Dodson, spoke about how much Summer meant to her many friends.
And Summer’s “cancer friends”, as she used to call them, Lacey Johnson and Tyler Hayes – both now cancer free – recalled their time with Summer, sharing their burdens and their battles, and the importance of continuing the mission of Team Summer.
All the words and stories provoked streams of tears…and gales of laughter…as speaker after speaker recalled Summer’s big-hearted, often-outrageous, and hilarious personality.
Family friend Eli Jordan created and showed this video of Summer’ s friends which perhaps captured Summer’s irreverent spirit best of all.
There were lots of hugs to go around…
…and a surprise for Summer’s family. Haley Kilpatrick, Summer’s mentor and confidante, handed out purple glow sticks…to everyone!
And as the Katy Perry song “Firework” blasted through the sound system, the room was filled with swirling purple light…a final farewell to a girl who captured so many hearts.
No doubt, this day will live in the hearts of everyone who shared it.
The Dale family would like to thank Haley Kilpatrick and Donna Morgan for their tireless efforts in making this day happen, the countless volunteers who helped them, and the incredible staff at Opera for all they contributed…along with much appreciation to Brenda Richterkessing for creating the slideshow of Summer’s life that ran throughout the day.